Orange lets users hear tunes on the bill with new handset

"Orange SPV C550 Great for Music handset" is basically one of the longest and maybe silliest names we've heard for a mobile phone. It's good news then, that the SPV C550 is so music focussed at a time when Sony with its Ericsson partnership and the imminent Motorola and iTunes tie-up, that Orange have their own model in place with their own portal, Orange World, to try and keep customers.

The company boasts that they're very happy indeed, in spite of the average cost of almost £1.50 per track - but Orange's killer twist is the fact that it allows all music costs to be billed at the end of the month with the contract cost, and you tend to pay more for a ringtone - so if you want the full length Crazy Frog, you could go to Orange's portal to get it (if they were mad). 300,000 tunes will be available, but once you've filled the enclose 128MB mini SD memory card, you'll only be able to carry about 170 - unless the card size is increased, any handset will be in competition with a full-sized HD-based MP3 walkman - after all, you'll already have a phone. In spite of AAC+, WAV, MP3 and MPEG-4 format support, frankly you might as well forget WAV files on the basic card. Whichever format you play, you'll be able to use dedicated music playing buttons on the fascia which won't get in the way of the other controls.

Other specs are 4hrs' talktime and 6 days' standby time maximum, the now-mandatory camera sports a 1.3Megapixel resolution which would be good enough for up-close daytime party snaps. In addition it's a triband wonder with GSM connectivity at 900/1800/1900 MHz, Bluetooth and GPRS Class 10, bolstering basic infrared. The OS is Windows Mobile 2003, so basic compatibility on the email and synchronisation front is very useful.

For this package to sport so many features yet measures less than 110g in weight, it's guaranteed to cost a pretty penny by itself, so the best thing to do is check out the contract links on release - and don't be surprised if Orange chooses to keep this one all to itself for a while. If you just can't wait for its release, the see its existing models, the SPV C500 phone, SPV M2000 PDA and the SPV M500 mini PDA, all of which also sport the portable Windows OS.


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